Vlatko Andonvoski became the ninth fulltime USWNT. (Photo courtesy of Reign SC)
Vlatko Andonvoski finds himself with one tough act to follow.
After all, its not every day you replace a head coach who had directed teams to back-to-back Women’s World Cup titles.
After the United States secured its fourth overall world championship, coach Jill Ellis stepped down as head coach. After her final game, a 1-1 draw with South Korea Oct. 6, Ellis completed her USWNT career as the program’s winningest coach with a 106-7-19 mark, one more win than the late Tony DiCicco (105-8-8). In September, Ellis also was selected The Best FIFA women’s coach.
“The opportunity to coach this team and work with these amazing women has been the honor of a lifetime,” Ellis said when she resigned July 30. “I want to thank and praise them for their commitment and passion to not only win championships but also raise the profile of this sport globally while being an inspiration to those who will follow them. I want to sincerely thank the world class coaches and staff with whom I’ve had the privilege to work – they are quintessential professionals and even better people.
“And finally, I want to thank the federation for their support and investment in this program, as well as all the former players, coaches, and colleagues that have played an important role in this journey.”
Several months later, Andonovski was selected by U.S. Soccer to take over the coaching reins. A popular coach with his players while guiding Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, Andonovski was named Oct. 27.
“Vlatko was the best fit with his experience with elite players, how he sees the game, how he coaches the game and manages players, and his overall personality and ability to take on a job of this magnitude,” USWNT general manager Kate Markgraf said.” I know all the players and staff are excited to begin this new chapter in women’s national team history with him and start the important work towards qualifying for the Olympics.”
A native of Macedonia, the 43-year-old Andonovski became the ninth coach since the team was created in 1985, joining (in chronological order): Mike Ryan, Anson Dorrance, DiCicco, April Heinrichs, Greg Ryan, Pia Sundhage, Tom Sermanni and Ellis as fulltime head coaches. Lauren Gregg coached the team on an interim basis twice.
“All of the talented coaches and players that have come before have built a legendary tradition of excellence and I’m committed to working very hard to continue to move this program forward,” Andonovski said.
As Markgraf stated, Andonovoski’s charge will be to take a world championship side and try to win back a gold medal in next summer’s Tokyo Olympics. At the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil, the Americans failed to reach the medal round for the first time, as they were eliminated by Sweden in the quarterfinals.
The USWNT essentially has written the Olympic women’s history with four gold medals and a silver in the first five tournaments.
Looking toward the future, Andonovski brought in 24 players to a December ID camp as he tried to expand the player pool.
In case you were wondering, Andonovski won his debut as coach, a 3-2 victory over Sweden in an international friendly Nov. 7.
Friday: National story No. 4